The coronavirus pandemic is already having a profound impact on our High Street. Commercial spaces designed for offices are suddenly sitting empty. If you are a commercial building owner, you may be considering other options for leasing your space. Thanks to the change in the permitted development rights, it is now much easier for commercial building owners to convert office space into residential flats – including demolishing vacant buildings and replacing them.
As you undertake the conversion process, you will likely need to consider the energy connections for your space. You may need to arrange for new connections or make changes to the existing ones. Here is an overview of things you will need to consider as you convert your space.
Checking your existing electricity and gas supplies
As soon as you have initial plans for your conversion, you will want to check your existing electricity and gas supplies.
The first step is to understand which energy supplies you have at your site. For example, you may only have electricity supplied to your commercial building. Once you have identified which utilities are there, you will want to understand whether they have enough capacity to support residential use. Residential units can require more power than commercial spaces, so do not assume whatever is there will be fine.
Next, contact your Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to understand whether your supply is live and sufficient. They will need your supply numbers (MPAN and MPRN), which you can easily find on your utility bill or on the meters themselves.
Making sure your supply is sufficient
Your local distribution company may confirm that your supplies are sufficient or can be made so with minor adjustments. In such case, you can turn your attention to the electrical and gas infrastructure in your building. You may need to reroute connections or make others changes.
Another consideration at this point is the number of meters. Previously, you may have had as few as one meter on the wall, tracking usage for the entire building. In making the switch to residential, you may now need to install separate meters for each flat as well as arranging for a landlord supply for common areas.
You will need to apply for permission from your DNO for a Point of Connection or a service alteration. You may need to arrange for the installation of new meter points – which your DNO may or may not offer as part of their contract.
As the building owner, you will be responsible for the entire energy infrastructure of the building. This is known as becoming the Building Network Operator (BNO). Make sure you are aware of your responsibilities as the BNO.
If you need a new supply or supply changes
Commercial buildings which have been long vacant may no longer have an energy connection, or may have one which is not sufficient for your needs. In this case, you will need a new energy connection to your building from the electrical grid or gas mains.
The first step is to apply for a Point of Connection with your DNO. You will need to know how many meters you will need as well as the total load required.
Once you’ve made the application, you will next want to check that you have enough space to account for the required energy infrastructure. For example, if you are switching from one meter point to multiple meter points, you will need adequate storage space to install them.
The last step is to arrange for the installation. Your DNO may be able to provide installation services as part of their contract, but don’t automatically assume this is the case. If you choose to have your building contractor do the work, you will be the BNO and will be responsible for the upkeep and for ensuring power is restored if it goes down. Depending on who installs the infrastructure, you may be able to assign responsibility for the BNO to someone else.
Getting expert support
Tackling a commercial to residential conversion is no small task. Ensuring your energy supplies and infrastructure are up to the job isn’t a task you have to manage alone.
Our team here at Dunore can provide project support, acting as a liaison between you and the various third parties involved in your conversion project. We can take the guesswork out of the process and ensure you get exactly what you need, when you need it, and within your budget.
Want to learn more about our support for commercial to residential conversions? Get in touchhttps://dunore-energy.com/contact